It was my first time in this part of Morocco, a most unexpected and magical place called the Vallée des Roses, within the Dades valley, tucked between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara desert. In spring, the entire Dades Valley becomes a sea of small pink Persian roses. These roses are the valley’s life-blood, from cultivation to the production of rose water and rose oil. In mid-May, the harvesting of the roses is celebrated with a three-day festival of entertainment, music, dance, horse and sword displays – and a showcase for all the rose products and local distilleries. The Rose Festival draws around 20,000 Moroccans and a few tourists. The whole town bathes in a unique rose fragrance and pays homage to this most beautiful flower, on which the inhabitants’ livelihood depends.
We were welcomed with a most delicious breakfast consisting of freshly made bread and apricot jam, homemade butter, olives and honey. And Moroccan tea of course! It was so good to eat all of this food in the distillery's courtyard, and to know that it came from this land, from these people, who shared it so generously with us.
To observe the traditional process involved to make rose oil and rose water was quite a revelation. I had no idea that it took 60,000 roses to make 1 ounce of rose oil, equivalent to 29.57 ml.
To find myself surrounded by so many roses in this remote part of Morocco, was a truly magical moment. Here are some photographs from our visit, several taken by Mai-Britt Wulf, the lovely German journalist with whom I was traveling, others by Hamid - a young, friendly and talented Moroccan media student, and some by me.